America’s birthday is traditionally a time of celebration. Fireworks, picnics, and road trips are all on the table for Americans from coast to coast. While the sun is high in the sky and hot dogs and toes in the sand might be foremost on people’s minds, July 4th is also renowned for being one of the most dangerous and deadly weekends on the road. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it! Here are some tips on making July 4th a safe and fun celebration for all.
Ensure Your Vehicle is Well Maintained
It is easy to fall into a lax attitude regarding car maintenance heading into the summer months. After all, ice and snow are no longer around to wreak havoc. However, it’s equally as important to take care of your vehicle in the summer as it is in the winter. Checking tire pressure and tread, testing the battery, and being certain the windshield wipers are not torn will help give you peace of mind when you head out for the July 4th holiday. Another great way to be proactive is to find the cheapest car insurance so you can get the best policy available to you at the lowest price, knowing your family is well covered.
Designate a Driver
Another way to be safe on July 4th is to take the time to designate a driver before going out. Whether you’re headed for the bar scene or are spending time at a friend’s backyard barbeque, prepare for a safe ride home by either drinking water or sodas or designating someone else to. Rideshare has become increasingly popular and is a safe and cheap alternative to driving yourself!
Follow the Rules of the Road
Defensive driving is key over the July 4th holiday. You can do your best to follow the rules of the road, but you must be on alert for those who don’t, and you can be sure there will be a few.
- Remember that intersections are usually where crashes occur, so when approaching one, be on the lookout for cars trying to beat the red light. Never assume a car is going to stop even if it is slowing down.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Following too closely doesn’t allow you time to brake safely. Tailgating irritates drivers, also, so keeping a few seconds behind another car provides a good mental and physical cushion.
- Wear your seatbelt. It’s the law in most states and will save your life in the event of a collision.
- Watch out for wildlife. Leading up to and including July 4th, people set off fireworks at all times of the day. Wildlife and pets will be spooked, and you never know when one will scamper in front of your vehicle.
Stay Where You Are
Due to the risk on the road, it’s feasible to stay put to keep safe. Consider driving a day or two ahead of time to a campground or vacation destination and taking public transportation or walking to fireworks locations. The later at night you are driving around the more likely you will be to encounter impaired drivers.
Be Prepared for Checkpoints
Chances are good that you’ll happen upon a checkpoint if you are traveling this holiday. It’s commonplace for municipalities to set up these checkpoints for everyone’s safety. Prepare ahead of time and make sure you have your driver’s license, registration and insurance card ready and available.
Don’t Drive Your Motorcycle
It might be difficult to keep from riding, but the chances of a motorcyclist crashing doubles on July 4th, over every other day of the year. If you do ride, wear protective clothing and a helmet. Those driving in cars should remember to be vigilant over the summer months and “look twice, save a life.”
Avoid Distracted Driving
When most people think about driving distracted, they think about texting or talking on the phone. However, distracted driving includes a much longer list of behaviors and activities that impede your ability to stay focused. These include:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to other passengers
- Arguing with someone in the car or on the phone
- Tinkering with the radio buttons or entertainment system
- Daydreaming / crying
- Using the GPS
- Dealing with pets and children
- Adjusting climate controls
- Applying makeup / combing hair / grooming
However, you choose to celebrate America’s birthday, do it safely. When you keep in mind that not everyone will be, you make it easier on yourself to take the right precautions.